JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS
(A biblical reflection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year B], 14 December 2014)
Gospel Reading: John 1:6-8,19-28
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11; Psalms: Luke 1:46-50,53-54; Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:15-24
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you a prophet?” And he answered, “No.” They said to him then, “Who are you?” Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands One whom you do not know, even He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:6-8,19-28 RSV)
How wonderful it is that from the very beginning, God has been intimately involved in human history, constantly at work to fulfil His promises to us! From generation to generation, He has raised up servants to speak His word and form His people. These women and men, each in her or his own way, reflected something of the promised Messiah, the one through whom God would abundantly pour out His Spirit. This promised one would come to bring freedom to prisoners, good news to the poor, and consolation to the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1-2). How God’s people must have waited and longed for the fulfillment of these words!
We know that the fulfilment of all our hopes is found in the person of Jesus Christ, “the true light that enlightens everyone” (John 1:9). In Jesus’ birth, all the grace of God came to earth. In His death, He destroyed the power of sin which held us in bondage. In His ascension, He poured out the Holy Spirit on all who would believe. Now, through Jesus, everything God intended for us is within our reach. Our consciences can be cleansed; fear can be lifted; memories can be healed; bitterness and anger can be dissolved.
As much as we have experienced the power of Jesus’ cross to transform us, there is much more that God wants to do in us, and so He asks us to come to Him each day. When we turn to Jesus, we discover that He is always ready to draw us closer to Himself and bring us into the life of the Trinity. We all have a longing in our hearts for the complete fulfillment of God’s healing and restoration, and this longing – which God placed in us – is but a reflection of our Father’s desire to shower His love upon us.
As we approach the sacrament of reconciliation this Advent, let us ask the Holy Spirit to continue God’s work in our hearts. When we confess our sins, let us be confident that God will forgive us, heal us, and restore us. He began this work when we were baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection. He now continues to work as we turn our hearts to Him and allow Him to cleanse and purify us more deeply.
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly … He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-34).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, our good Lord God, thank You for sending us Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son, as the fulfilment of all our hopes. Thank You for Your healing and restoration through His death and resurrection. Amen.
Jakarta, 12 December 2014
A Christian Pilgrim